6 am came early for many volunteers of the Friends of Nanih Waiya Community Park to get ready for the First Annual Nanih Waiya Fall Festival and Swamptown 5K.
It was also somewhat gloomy with rain in the area and the intermittent sprinkles of rain at the festival site. But as daylight broke the darkness it also broke the rain and a beautiful day was enjoyed by the many volunteers and festival attendees.
“We were very nervous about the weather and the attendance for our event since it was our first and we only started on this 6 weeks ago.” said Friends President Jerry Hemphill.
“But the rain went away and the people came!” added Hemphill.
The cool morning started off with the inaugural Swamptown 5K Run/Walk. Over 40 runners and walkers took to the starting line at 8 am. On a course that took them down Middleton Rd then onto Lovorn Rd to Calhoun Rd and back again to Middleton Rd, the runners traveled through the heart of the community nicknamed Swamptown. The overall winner of the race was JP Watson (pushing a baby in a stroller along the way I might add), second in the men’s division was Kevin Reel and third in this division was his brother Keith Reel. First in the women’s division and third overall was Madison Holdiness, second was Candace Cefalu, and third was Ann Barefield.
At 9 am the festival kicked off with Hemphill welcoming the crowd and making a few announcements. Brother David Keen gave a wonderful opening prayer followed by Jennifer Kight’s brilliant rendition of the National Anthem. By this time the booth vendors were open and ready for business and the carnival area was ready for the kids. There were jumpers and good old fashioned carnival games like the milk bottle toss, bean bag toss, go fish and a balloon popping game. One of the busiest games was the good ole fashioned cakewalk featuring the cakes from many of the great bakers in the community.
A huge hit was the hayride and pumpkin patch. The children and their parents would hop on a trailer filled with hay and the tractor would pull them on a long ride through a pasture and through some woods to another field loaded with pumpkins. Each child could pick out the pumpkin they wanted and take it home with them. “These kids had a blast on the hayrides” said Hemphill “They even wanted to go again when the pumpkins were gone.”
There was also entertainment throughout the day with the Wells Family and Sean Greer and their wonderful gospel music. One attendee said, “I could have listened to them all day!” The Wells family also provided the sound equipment used to keep the music playing all day.
In all the festival day itself brought in an estimated $4000 in net profit funds for the park and another $2500 in donations during the day. That, along with the sponsorship money, amounted to over $12,000 raised just for the festival alone. Add in all the donations received to date and the Friends of NW Community Park are over $30,000 toward their goal of $75,000 by the end of 2013.
“Today was better than anyone imagined it would be. The weather was great and the people of this community came together and made it happen. No place I’d rather be!” said Hemphill. “We really have something we can run with next year and I can’t thank all the volunteers and sponsors enough for what they did. There are too many to name individually,” Hemphill added.
Corporate sponsors for the festival were: Heard’s Collision Service, The Almost World Famous Pack Rat Store, Van’s Landing, Warrior One Stop, The Tot Spot and Chris Keene from Premier Ford.
Swamptown 5K sponsors were: State Representative Joey Hood, Winston Medical Center, Attala Co Farm Bureau, State Representative Michael Evans, State Senator Giles Ward, TNT Pools, Judy McLeod, Dihan McCullough Realty, Caperton Lawn Service, David Bane Attorney, Vowell’s, Game Day Sports, Gookin Customs & Quick Lube and Taylor Logging.
Special thanks goes out to the Road Warriors Motorcycle Club for running the food concessions, Vowell’s and Southern Floral Charm for the pumpkins for the pumpkin patch, and most of all, the Nanih Waiya and surrounding communities for their support. Another thank you goes to the booth vendors in attendance.
Your attendance was appreciated and the Friends of NW Community Park hope to see you again next year.